Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease of the skin.  It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious.  The most common form is plaque psoriasis and is commonly seen as red and white shades of scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the skin.  Psoriasis can vary in severity from minor localized patches to completey covering the body.  Toenails are frequently affected (psoriatic nail dystrophy) and can be seen as an isolated symptom.  The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood but it is thought to be partly genetic.  It is also possible for it to be triggered by injury to the skin and can be made worse by environmental factors and even stress can aggravate it.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs can range from no nothing visible on the skin to read and white scaly patches on the top layer of the skin.  Nail psoriasis causes a variety of changes in the toenails pitting of the nails, lines traveling across the nails, discoloration under the nail plate, and even loosening and crumbling of the nails.  The condition can cause itchiness and even pain as well as a feeling of self-consciousness about the appearance of the feet.


There are many treatments available, but because of its chronic recurrent nature, psoriasis is a challenge.  Topical agents work well for mild cases.  This includes moisturizers and mineral oils to help treat the dryness.  Ointments and creams that contain such things as vitamin D, corticosteroids and retinoids are often used as well.  Phototherapy using sunlight as long been a successful treatment option.  The skin type of the person is used to determine how much light is needed for treatment.  For more severe cases and cases that don't respond to topical or phototherapy treatments can use oral medication.  The three types of medications used are methotrexate, cyclosporine, and retinoids.  However, psoriasis is a life-long condition and your podiatrist can help you manage your disease so you can live a more full and active lifestyle.

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